Emerge prompted the business decision. “The magazine began losing substantial amounts of money and netted no profit on the business end earlier this year,” said Johnson.
Partnering with BET and closing Emerge also makes room for Vanguarde to launch Savoy, a brainchild Johnson created in 1996 when he was a senior editor at Money magazine, also a subsidiary of Time Inc.
“If Keith and Roy are able to do what was planned in the past for Savoy, they will fill a unique niche that no one else currently fills,” says Smikle. “There’s not a [lifestyles] publication that addresses black people who have an affluent lifestyle, and the reason that is important to have is because it will validate that such a thing exists in the minds of corporate America.”
Aside from Savoy, the former Time Inc. duo hopes this partnership with BET will put Vanguarde on the map as one of the key players. “Similar to the way Fox became the fourth network, hopefully we can become the fifth network,” says Clinkscales. “black enterprise, Essence, Ebony and BET are the big four.”
BET’s value and 60 million cable viewers provide Vanguarde with an outlet that Clinkscales says will allow his company “to grow to a good size pretty quickly.” But more important, BET exposes Vanguarde publications to additional forms of media, such as television and the Internet, which are key in this era.
“Small publishers in the African American publishing industry and across the board can’t exist anymore,” said Samir Husni, author of the Guide to New Consumer Magazines and the head of the University of Mississippi’s magazine service journalism program. “Magazines are becoming part of a continuing medium-online, television, and print-and Essence and Vanguarde aren’t going to just sit back and watch this go on.”
The combination of Vanguarde and BET gives BET the expertise it needs to develop quality publications that will entice the younger urban audience. Granted BET only had $225 million in revenue for 1999 compared with the $4.7 billion of Time Inc., but the young black woman with the blonde hair on the cover of Honey offers a lot of potential for advertising revenue. “Advertisers always lean toward the 18-to-24 age group because their habits are less rigid and can still be influenced,” says Smikle.
To view today that woman who graced the first cover of Essence is to view a time of yesteryear when the first order of business for black people was to receive equal treatment and be viewed as a force to be reckoned with in mainstream society. Well, today, that woman’s descendants are achieving those goals.
Once ECI joins Time, the opportunity for an Essence television show on HBO is possible, an Internet channel on AOL is possible, the launch of a world music label, which insiders say the principals at ECI have been eyeing for some time, also becomes a possibility.
As separate entities, BET and ECI are powerhouses. Thirty years ago, there was nothing like ECI, and today it still maintains its place in society. Likewise,